Numerous right-wing media figures have rushed to defend Arizona's controversial new immigration law, often by employing racially charged rhetoric, imagery, and stereotypes. Many have also embraced racial profiling while promoting the legislation.
Spurred by Matt Drudge, the right-wing commentariat is buzzing over President Obama's videotaped appeal to his supporters, in which he asks them to gear up for the 2010 midterms and help turn out the same voters who came out to vote in 2008:
In 2010, it will be up to each of you to ask folks like Claudia to stay involved, and to explain why, this year, the stakes are higher than ever. It will be up to each of you to make sure that the young people, African-Americans, Latinos, and women who powered our victory in 2008 stand together once again.
Because Obama used the words "African-American" and "Latino," Drudge put up the headline: "Obama plays race card: Rallies blacks, Latinos for '10 upset." Drudge's inflammatory headline was then picked up by the rest of the conservative echo chamber, from third-rate bloggers all the way up to Boss Limbaugh.
This is so dumb it hurts.
Following the announcement that the Security and Exchange Commission is investigating the investment firm Goldman Sachs for fraud, an April 19 FoxNews.com article reported that the "White House...strongly denied any involvement in the timing of the high-profile fraud case against Goldman Sachs," after Republicans and their media acolytes suggested the charges were timed to help pass financial reform. Fox News reported that "Republicans also accused the administration of biting the hand that fed it, since Goldman Sachs was President Obama's top Wall Street contributor during the 2008 campaign, with employees donating nearly $1 million, according to the Center for Responsive Politics," and went on to quote Rep. John Boehner as asking "just whose side is President Obama on?" Pause for reaction. First of all, the SEC is a non-partisan body that is operating independent of the White House. Secondly, the accusation that the President is "biting the hand that fed it" makes absolutely no sense. Wouldn't the real scandal be if Obama interfered with a SEC investigation because the subject of the investigation was a large campaign contributor of his?
From The Drudge Report on March 29:
The Drudge Report is the latest to push the completely baseless smear that Rep. Bart Stupak (D-MI) "sold" his health care vote for "airport grants," a claim Stupak has strongly denied. In fact, there is no evidence for this charge; indeed, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) awarded grants in 47 states -- including one in Minority Leader John Boehner's district -- as part of a decades-old airport improvement program.
Right wing media figures have compared the passage of landmark health care reform legislation to historical events including the Black Plague, the attack on Pearl Harbor, Bloody Sunday, the passage of the Stamp Act, the federal government's refusal to bail out New York City in the 1970's, the Jonestown massacre, and The Day The Music Died.
From the January 20 edition of Fox and Friends:
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Yesterday, Eric Boehlert explained how a completely made-up claim that Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT) gave a floor speech on health care reform while drunk had bubbled up through the right-wing noise machine and was amplified by The Politico -- despite the fact that there was absolutely no evidence supporting the story.
Nothing in the video of Baucus suggested that he was drunk. As The Washington Independent's David Weigel wrote, "Baucus talks like this all the time. ... Baucus mumbles occasionally. OK, a lot. Accusing him of being drunk on the job, without evidence, is shameful, and I'm flabbergasted at the number of journalists who are doing it."
UPDATE: A spokesman for Baucus released the following statement: "When his friend of 30 years Ted Kennedy, with whom he had fought so hard to provide health care to children, was being used as a cheap foil to oppose health care reform, Senator Baucus gave a passionate defense. Unfortunately, those who want to kill any meaningful reform, turned it into an unfounded, untrue personal smear internet rumor. This is beyond the pale and this type of gutter politics has no place in the public sphere. It is this type of slander that makes Montanans, and Americans, disgusted with the politics as usual in Washington. And what is even more sad is that such a personal attack would be given any validity at all, let alone being elevated to the status of 'news'."
That should have put an end to the story. But not if you are Matt Drudge. Hours after Baucus' denial -- and days after it was clear the story was entirely baseless -- Drudge was still linking to the YouTube video of Baucus' speech and still featuring the following headline: "DRUNK WITH POWER? TOP DEM BAUCUS SLURS ON SENATE FLOOR..."
As MSNBC's David Shuster wrote on Twitter, Baucus "always speaks in a halting fashion. The wingnut claims are lies and disgusting smears. ... Baucus speech was at 430pm in the afternoon. He was incensed at [Sen. Roger] Wicker [R-MS]. He was emotional. To smear him, as drudge does, is repulsive."
Recently, the right-wing media have engaged in relentless attacks on President Obama and his administration and progressive organizations. Those attacks have repeatedly turned out to be based on demonstrably false claims -- such as the claim that Education Department official Kevin Jennings "cover[ed] up statutory rape."
Led by Fox News, the conservative media have opened a new front from which to attack President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama's support of Chicago's bid to host the 2016 Summer Olympics: smearing the city as unfit to host the Olympic Games, often by citing individual instances of violence. For example, Sean Hannity, after citing a recent murder and an assault, asked whether Chicago is "a city where we want the Olympics," and Glenn Beck said, "Chicago is good at ... organized Mafi -- oops, did I say that out loud?"
In recent days, Fox News hosts, contributors and guests have used President Obama's promotion of the United States bid to host the 2016 Summer Olympics in Chicago as an excuse to attack him, while Michelle Malkin and Matt Drudge have baselessly linked the murder of a teenager in Chicago to the Olympic bid. Attacks on Obama's efforts include Sean Hannity saying that "it sounds" like Obama "is more concerned about bringing the Olympics to Chicago than winning the war in Afghanistan," Brent Bozell claiming Obama's trip to Copenhagen to promote the Chicago bid "is evidence that this man just cannot stay away from the klieg lights," and Bret Baier invoking the "carbon footprint" of Obama's trip to Copenhagen to smear the president.
From the Drudge Report, accessed on September 29:
So, some reporters are proclaiming the end of the Drudge Era.
I'm not impressed.
See, Matt Drudge was never really as influential as the media insisted he was. He was their mascot, not their quarterback.
Drudge's thinly-sourced "scoops" and badly-skewed, sensationalist spin on mundane stories seemed to carry the day not because he enjoyed a svengali-like grip over the diligent reporters at MSNBC and the Washington Post who wanted nothing more than to produce solid, factual, balanced journalism but were led astray by Drudge's irresistible breaking-news beacon. No, Drudge seemed to carry the day because those journalists wanted to focus on the gossip, wanted to pursue irrelevant, salacious, and often false stories rather than write about policy, wanted to behave like cliquish thirteen-year-olds. They used Drudge as an excuse, not as a guide.
If they no longer feel it necessary to blame their shortcomings on Matt Drudge, that's only because they've embraced the fact that they are Matt Drudge.
Time's Joe Klein rips a new fundraising email that begins with the false claim that "More American women are going to die of breast cancer if you and I surrender to President Obama's nationalized healthcare onslaught" and goes on to make a variety of false claims about health care reform.
Needless to say, there is no plan to nationalize or socialize health care. This letter, therefore, is a disgraceful scam, intended to scare the living hell out of already frightened and militantly uninformed people--Fox News viewers who think the sky is falling because a Muslim-Socialist-furriner is in the White House. I'd like to see the leaders of the Republican Party disown this poisonous swill. But they won't--because the real leaders of the Republican Party (Fox, Rush and Drudge) are spreading it.
Klein never mentions who the email is from, though. It's signed by Michelle Bernard of the Independent Women's Forum. Bernard is a frequent guest on MSNBC, particularly Chris Matthews' Hardball.
Joe Klein has expressed a fair amount of outrage in recent weeks about the lies that are being spread about health care. But he seems not to have internalized one very important fact: The problem is not limited to "Fox, Rush and Drudge."
In this case, MSNBC gives a platform to the author of the "disgraceful scam, intended to scare the lving hell out of already frightened and militantly uninformed people." MSNBC, not Fox. MSNBC, not Rush. MSNBC.
The other thing Joe Klein would do well to realize is that Fox News doesn't give a damn whether Joe Klein criticizes them. Neither does Rush Limbaugh, or Matt Drudge. But if Joe Klein, longtime fixture of Polite DC Society, were to turn his ire on people like Chris Matthews for giving people like Michelle Bernard a platform, he might actually do some good. Matthews and Andrea Mitchell and Norah O'Donnell and David Shuster might actually care what he has to say. He might actually be able to shame them.
From the August 4th edition of CNN's Situation Room:
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